Sunday, 6 April 2014

Waltham Pocket Watch Repair - Who and Where?

One of the most frequently asked questions is where can I get my Waltham pocket watch repaired? The first question I think you should ask is, should I get my watch fixed? If you want to get your Waltham watch in good working order for sentimental reasons, then I would always go ahead and do that. If however you want to do that to increase the value, then you should have a good think about that.

Should You Get Your Waltham Watch Repaired?

An antique watch that is working is always worth more than one that needs some type of repair. That would make you automatically think that it is a good idea, to get it fixed. The reality is that many of the Waltham watches were produced in their millions and as such, they really don't have a great deal of value. At the lower end of the scale some of these watches sell for well under $50, even if they are working. If they are not working a similar watch will still sell for around $10-30 and can be used for parts.

The most simple repairs will cost anything between $50-100. Therefore unless your watch is worth more than $200-300 I would never invest the money in getting it repaired. That is unless the watch meant a lot to you, and you wanted it to work. In those cases, the investment is worth it to have something special that brings back great memories to you, and that you can then pass down through the family.

Who Repairs Waltham Pocket Watches?

The easiest way to find out is to ring around a few local jewellers and just ask them. The chances are that you will find one, and that way, you can pay them a physical visit. In turn they can see what needs done and give you an accurate quotation.
The main problem you will encounter is parts. If the watch was mass produced, that is really not a problem. However if it is rare, then they can be tough to find. The good news there is that your watch will probably have a great deal more value.

The actual replacement of the parts is not that difficult for someone who is a genuine watch maker. It is however something you should not really try to do yourself. You do need special tools and a good degree of knowledge, before you take on something like replacing a spring, or installing a new winder.

I am ok with doing some basic cleaning and have even replaced broken watch faces, but I shy away from the actual movements as that is the work of experts. Here is a list of some of the known experts:

Girards in Michigan
City Bank Antiques in Kent, Ohio
RGM Watches
Comptons Jewellers in Washington
Olde Town Jewellers Santa Rosa California

As and when I find other reputable Waltham watch repairers, I will add them to this list. If you know of any, please let me know and I will add them here as well.

How Much Is A Waltham Pocket Watch Worth?

I guess for many people that this is the 64 million dollar question. You have in your possession a Waltham Pocket Watch, but you just don't know what it could be worth. It is like many antiques in that if you don't know a great deal about them, then it is hard to know what value you have, and like anyone you are probably rather curious to find that out.

My first small piece of advice is to keep your expectations really low. A common thought for a lot of people is that they maybe have something of really high value, but the reality is that in the huge majority of cases, the opposite is true. I guess it also depends on what you consider valuable. The simplest way to find out is to read the rest of this article, and then at least you will know whether to get it checked out, or just enjoy it for its antiquity.

Determining The True Value of A Waltham Pocket Watch

If you pop over to eBay you will find plenty of these for sale. A quick glance through those will quickly give you an idea of the real market value of these old pocket watches. They range as average prices from about $100-200, and these are for Waltham's dating back to around 1886. So, if you think that represents a great deal of money, then you can probably get that for many of the watches from around that time period.

When I checked eBay in March 2014, there were around 3,000 watches or parts for watches for sale. At the low end of the price point some of these were selling for around $50, and at the higher end there were asking prices of around $6,000 - $8,000. Please note that I said asking prices, as there were no actual bidders that I could see at the higher price points. These were for watches with 14K Gold cases and as such, the current price of gold, would contribute a lot to this higher price point.

I don't in anyway want to dampen your enthusiasm, especially if you believe you have something of high value. I think it is also important to keep what you can expect to get in perspective as well.
 1900 Waltham Pocket Watch Valued at $6,000+
On Sale at eBay from Harrington Antiques and valued at around $7,000

What Makes A Waltham Watch Have Higher Value?

The number one thing when determining value is always condition. A watch that is working will always sell better than one that needs repair. A watch with no scratches, no parts missing and with any type of supporting authentic material (such as the original sale's invoice) will certainly add value.

There are collectors out there who will buy pocket watches. They are on the look out for all types of antique watches like Waltham and Elgin. Collectors though tend to buy based on condition and that is why I stress that a working watch will always sell a great deal quicker.

If the watch has any type of gold content, then simply based on the price of gold alone you almost certainly have some value there. The other single thing that increases value is the year of manufacture. Watches from certain years are worth more than other years. Read this article on how to determine the year of manufacture of a Waltham pocket watch.

Limited editions also tend to be worth more than those that were mass produced.

Contact An Appraiser

Now I know for certainty, that the only person who can give you an exact value is an appraiser. They are experts in this field, and ONLY when they have the watch in their hand, can they properly inspect it. Checking eBay for a similar watch will give you a strong indication as to what a watch like yours may be worth. However, the only real way to find out is to have it appraised.

That will cost you money to get that done. The average price to get any type of watch appraised is around $75. My advice would be to first check eBay and look for a similar watch. If it is less than $200 then to be honest I wouldn't get it appraised as you would just lose too much of the value.

If you can't find a match on eBay, then it should be worthwhile to think of an appraisal. Some places like pawn shops will give you a free appraisal, but they will never offer as much as you can get elsewhere. They are also not verified appraisers so you can't really use that as an appraised value. It would nonetheless give you an indication of value.